The First United Methodist Church of Winter Garden has gifted a $2,500 grant to Dillard Street Elementary School to purchase picture cards and other materials for its new Lively Letters reading program. The church and school are about a half of a mile apart, and many Dillard students attend the church.
At the elementary school, 48% of the students are Hispanic and many struggle with basic learning skills such as reading, Partner in Education/ADDitions coordinator Kelley Bell wrote in her letter to the church when requesting the grant.
“The success of our community depends upon the success of our students,” Bell wrote. “We are eager to begin this program.”
One instructor has agreed to train the teachers and volunteers at DSES at no cost, so the only expense for the program is the materials. Each set is $125; the school is buying 20 with the grant money from the church. Teachers can check out the materials from the library.
The basic set of Lively Letters comes with picture cards with individual letters and letter blends, such as “ou” and “sp,” and a story is told about each.
For example, the characters “o” and “u” are a baby and a toddler. When put together, the toddler pulls the baby’s hair, and the baby cries out in pain, “ou.”
The program is designed to teach the sounds of letters, not just the letters themselves.
By the end of the first session, students will be building words and more characters and letters are introduced. The skills learned with these materials are then transferred to manipulative activities using plain letters, then whole words, sentences and books.
Lively Letters is used as a supplement to the core reading curriculum in prekindergarten through second grade. Creator Nancy Telian discovered the program was effective with slower learners, students learning English as a second language and students with weaknesses in rapid naming, visual processing and phonemic awareness, as well as those diagnosed with dyslexia.